Bulgarian archaeologists have finished mapping out the extent of a large Roman tomb near the city of Plovdiv and were preparing to begin excavations on the tomb, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported on July 25.
Located under the Maltepe burial mound, one of the largest of its kind on the Balkan peninsula at 26 metres high, at a depth of five metres, the tomb itself had a square base of seven metres on each side and was about five metres tall, according to the results of tomographic scans.
It appears to be similar, if not identical, in size and layout to the tomb of Roman emperor Carinus, buried in the town of Viminacium in present-day Serbia, after his death in battle against Diocletian in 285 CE.
The tomb under Maltepe burial mound is believed to date to the same period, the third century CE, judging by the pottery shards and several coins found on the site during excavations last summer.
Roman-era tombs are rare in Bulgaria, according to lead archaeologist on the Maltepe excavations and head of the Plovdiv archaeological museum, Kostadin Kisyov. The territory of modern Bulgaria was fully conquered by Rome in the first century CE and became an imperial province in 45 CE.
The tomb’s close location to Plovdiv, known as Phillippopolis in ancient times, has led archaeologists to believe that the tomb holds the remains of a local noble, either Thracian or Roman.
“One of the most characteristic indicators that the tomb is most likely linked to a Thracian dignitary is its location inside a burial mound,” Kisyov told BNT. Leaving coins and pottery on top of tombs was also part of Thracian burial rituals, he said.
The excavations have reached the ceiling of the tomb and archaeologists were looking for a way in, he said. Part of the ceiling appeared to have been damaged by treasure hunters in the past.
(View of the Maltepe burial mound from the nearby cultural information centre opened in 2017. Photo: maltepe.bg)